Students from around the world are learning about the next Space Shuttle mission, calledNeurolab, by logging onto the Internet at:

They are learning how scientists, technicians and astronauts are preparing for the STS-90 mission, scheduled for liftoff April 16. Neurolab will study the effects of weightlessness on the nervous system.

"NASA is breaking a time barrier by enabling students to interact with Neurolab researchers via the Internet long before any new information is printed in textbooks," said Linda Conrad, NeurOn (Neurolab Online) Project Manager at NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, CA. "About 50 scientists, engineers and the Shuttle and ground crews are working with students and educators through the Internet project."

The NASA on-line mentors upload biographies and field journals to the NeurOn Internet pages. NASA employees from Ames, Johnson Space Center, Houston, TX, and Kennedy Space Center, FL, will answer students' e-mail questions and will participate in "Web chats" with youngsters and teachers. During Internet chats, young people use computers to converse with mentors by typing questions and reading responses and dialogue via the World Wide Web.

NASA scientists note that, even after 50 years, they know very little about the way the brain and nervous system are affected by space flight. NASA's Neurolab mission is expected to answer many questions about the way the nervous system reacts to microgravity.

There are 26 experiments scheduled for Neurolab. "Lesson plans for teachers are available on the website so they can more easily integrate NeurOn activities related to the experiments into the classroom," Conrad said.

The young students monitor activities of ground crew members as they assemble hardware and prepare provisions such as food and water, for the 16-day mission aboard the Shuttle Columbia. A seven-member astronaut crew will conduct the experiments.

In their classrooms, students will simulate mission activities to better understand the Neurolab mission. The NeurOn website includes a section that displays projects for youngsters and galleries of student work.

The NeurOn project is one of many Internet offerings from NASA's Quest Project at:

These interactive projects connect students with NASA employees and are designed to inspire young people to pursue careers in high technology.

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